Catholic Monarchs

Catholic Monarchs

Overview

The Catholic Monarchs is the collective title used in history for Queen Isabella I
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I was Queen of Castile and León. She and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon brought stability to both kingdoms that became the basis for the unification of Spain. Later the two laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor...

 of Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 and King Ferdinand II
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile
John I of Castile
John I was the king of Crown of Castile, was the son of Henry II and of his wife Juana Manuel of Castile, daughter of Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena, head of a younger branch of the royal house of Castile...

; they were given a papal dispensation to deal with consanguinity by Sixtus IV. The title of "Catholic King and Queen
Catholic King
The titles Catholic King and Catholic Queen are awarded by the Pope as head of the Catholic Church to monarchs who in the eyes of the papacy embody Catholic principles in their personal lives and state policies. The title remains attached to monarchs descended from whoever received the original,...

" was bestowed on them by the Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI , born Roderic Llançol i Borja was Pope from 1492 until his death on 18 August 1503. He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, and his Italianized surname—Borgia—became a byword for the debased standards of the Papacy of that era, most notoriously the Banquet...

 in 1496, for defending Catholic dogmas within their realms. They married on October 19, 1469, in the city of Valladolid
Valladolid
Valladolid is a historic city and municipality in north-central Spain, situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers, and located within three wine-making regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cigales...

; Isabella was eighteen years old and Ferdinand a year younger.
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The Catholic Monarchs is the collective title used in history for Queen Isabella I
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I was Queen of Castile and León. She and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon brought stability to both kingdoms that became the basis for the unification of Spain. Later the two laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor...

 of Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 and King Ferdinand II
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile
John I of Castile
John I was the king of Crown of Castile, was the son of Henry II and of his wife Juana Manuel of Castile, daughter of Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena, head of a younger branch of the royal house of Castile...

; they were given a papal dispensation to deal with consanguinity by Sixtus IV. The title of "Catholic King and Queen
Catholic King
The titles Catholic King and Catholic Queen are awarded by the Pope as head of the Catholic Church to monarchs who in the eyes of the papacy embody Catholic principles in their personal lives and state policies. The title remains attached to monarchs descended from whoever received the original,...

" was bestowed on them by the Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI , born Roderic Llançol i Borja was Pope from 1492 until his death on 18 August 1503. He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, and his Italianized surname—Borgia—became a byword for the debased standards of the Papacy of that era, most notoriously the Banquet...

 in 1496, for defending Catholic dogmas within their realms. They married on October 19, 1469, in the city of Valladolid
Valladolid
Valladolid is a historic city and municipality in north-central Spain, situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers, and located within three wine-making regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cigales...

; Isabella was eighteen years old and Ferdinand a year younger. Their marriage united both crowns under the same family. Although many historians, like John Elliot argue that the unification of Spain can essentially be traced back to the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella newer historical opinions recognize that under their rule Spain was still a composite monarchy. Castile and Aragon would remain largely separate entities for decades to come. The court of Ferdinand and Isabella was constantly on the move, in order to bolster local support for the crown from local feudal lords.

"Catholic monarchs" or "kings" can of course be used in a generic sense (e.g., "the Pope had authority over Catholic monarchs..."); the particular or generic use can be distinguished from the context.

Succession


Isabella was named heir to the throne of Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 by her half brother Henry IV of Castile
Henry IV of Castile
Henry IV , King of the Crown of Castile, nicknamed the Impotent , was the last of the weak late medieval kings of Castile...

 in the Treaty of the Bulls of Guisando
Treaty of the Bulls of Guisando
The Treaty of the Bulls of Guisando is the name of a treaty agreed on top of the hill of Guisando near the Bulls of Guisando on September 18, 1468, between Henry IV of Castile and his half-sister Isabella of Castile...

. She became Queen of Castile in 1474. Her niece, Joanna of Castile, attempted to gain the throne by bringing in the foreign help of Afonso V of Portugal
Afonso V of Portugal
Afonso V KG , called the African , was the twelfth King of Portugal and the Algarves. His sobriquet refers to his conquests in Northern Africa.-Early life:...

, leading to the War of Castilian Succession. More recently, some speculate that Joanna was the legitimate successor, though Isabella was able to portray herself as such. Isabella's supporters came out ahead in good part due to Aragon's support through Ferdinand, and she officially won in 1479 via the Treaty of Alcacovas
Treaty of Alcaçovas
The Treaty of Alcáçovas put an end to the War of the Castilian Succession in favor of Isabella I of Castile, and confirmed Castilian control of the Canary Islands and Portuguese control of the Madeira , Azores and Cape Verde islands , all in the Atlantic Ocean The Treaty of Alcáçovas (also known...

. Ferdinand became the King of Aragon in 1479. Though their marriage united the two kingdoms, leading to the beginnings of modern Spain, they ruled independently and their kingdoms retained their own regional laws and governments for the next few centuries.

Domestic policy



The Catholic Monarchs set out to restore royal authority in Spain. To accomplish their goal, they first created a group named the Holy Brotherhood
Hermandad
Hermandad, literally "brotherhood" in Spanish, was a peacekeeping association of armed individuals, which became characteristic of municipal life in medieval Spain, especially in Castile....

. These men were used as a judicial police force for Castile, as well as to attempt to keep Castilian nobles in check. To establish a more uniform judicial system
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

, the Catholic Monarchs created the Royal Council, and appointed magistrates (judges) to run the towns and cities. This establishment of royal authority is known as the Pacification of Castile, and can be seen as one of the crucial steps toward the creation of one of Europe's first strong nation-states. Isabella also sought various ways to diminish the influence of the Cortes Generales
Cortes Generales
The Cortes Generales is the legislature of Spain. It is a bicameral parliament, composed of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate . The Cortes has power to enact any law and to amend the constitution...

 in Castile, though Ferdinand was too thoroughly Catalan
Catalan people
The Catalans or Catalonians are the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia that form a historical nationality in Spain. The inhabitants of the adjacent portion of southern France are sometimes included in this definition...

 to do anything of the sort with the equivalent systems in the Crown of Aragon. Even after his death and the union of the crowns under one monarch, the Aragonese, Catalan, and Valencian cortes (Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

/Valencian
Valencian
Valencian is the traditional and official name of the Catalan language in the Valencian Community. There are dialectical differences from standard Catalan, and under the Valencian Statute of Autonomy, the Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua has been established as its regulator...

: corts) retained significant power in their respective regions. Further, the monarchs continued ruling through a form of medieval contractualism, which made their rule pre-modern in a few ways. One of those is that they traveled from town to town throughout the kingdom in order to promote loyalty, rather than possessing any single administrative center. Another is that each community and region was connected to them via loyalty to the crown, rather than bureaucratic ties.

Ferdinand and Isabella were noted for being the monarchs of the newly-united Spain at the dawn of the modern era. The Kings had a goal of completing the Christian reconquest
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

 of the Iberian Peninsula and to conquer the Muslim kingdom of Granada. The beginnings of a series of campaigns known as the Granada War
Granada War
The Granada War was a series of military campaigns between 1482 and 1492, during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, against the Nasrid dynasty's Emirate of Granada...

 began with the attack of Alhama de Granada
Alhama de Granada
Alhama de Granada is a town in the province of Granada, approx. 50 km from the city of Granada. The name is derived from the thermal baths located there, which are called al-hammam in Arabic....

. The attack was led by two Andalusian nobles Rodrigo Ponce de León and Diego de Merlo. The city fell to Andalusian forces in 1482. The Granada War was aided by Pope Sixtus IV by granting a tithe and implementing a crusade tax to invest in the war. After 10 years of many battles the Granada War ended in 1492 when the Emir Boabdil surrendered the keys of the Alhambra Palace in Granada to the Castilian soldiers.

Expulsion of non-Christians and Spanish Inquisition


Ferdinand & Isabella ordered the expulsion from Spain of all Moors and Jews. Conversion to Catholicism was a way of avoiding expulsion, but between 1480 and 1492 hundreds of those who had converted (conversos and moriscos) were accused of secretly practising their original religion (crypto-Judaism
Crypto-Judaism
Crypto-Judaism is the secret adherence to Judaism while publicly professing to be of another faith; practitioners are referred to as "crypto-Jews"...

) and arrested, imprisoned, interrogated under torture, and in many cases burned to death, in both Castile and Aragon.

The Inquisition had been created in the twelfth century by Pope Lucius III
Pope Lucius III
Pope Lucius III , born Ubaldo, was pope from 1 September 1181 to his death.A native of the independent republic of Lucca, he was born ca. 1100 as Ubaldo, son of Orlando. He is commonly referred to as a member of the aristocratic family of Allucingoli, but this is not proven...

 to fight heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 in the south of what is now France. The Catholic Monarchs decided to introduce the Inquisition to Castile, and requested the Pope's assent. On 1 November 1478 Pope Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV , born Francesco della Rovere, was Pope from 1471 to 1484. His accomplishments as Pope included the establishment of the Sistine Chapel; the group of artists that he brought together introduced the Early Renaissance into Rome with the first masterpiece of the city's new artistic age,...

 published the Papal bull, Exigit Sinceras Devotionis Affectus, through which the Inquisition was established in the Kingdom of Castile; it was later extended to all of Spain. The bull gave the monarchs exclusive authority to name the inquisitors. [unsourced paragraph]

During the reign of the Catholic Monarchs and long afterwards the Inquisition was active in persecuting people for offences such as crypto-Judaism, heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

, Protestantism, blasphemy, and bigamy. The last trial for crypto-Judaism was held in 1818.

In 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella ordered segregation of communities to create closed quarters which eventually became what were later called "ghettos". This segregation, common at the time, also furthered economic pressures upon the Jews and other non-Christians by increasing taxes and social restrictions. Finally, in 1492, with the Alhambra Decree
Alhambra decree
The Alhambra Decree was an edict issued on 31 March 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.The edict was formally revoked on 16 December 1968, following the Second...

  Jews in Spain were given four months by the monarchs to either convert to Catholicism or leave Spain. Tens of thousands of Jews departed from Spain to other lands such as Portugal, North Africa, Italy and the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. Later in 1492, Ferdinand issued a letter addressed to the Jews who had left Castile and Aragon, to invite them back to Spain if and only if they had become Christians. [unsourced paragraph]

Exploration



They authorized the expedition of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

, who was given the name of Admiral of the Ocean Sea by the monarchs, which brought knowledge of the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 to Europe. Columbus' first expedition to the supposed Indies actually landed in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. He landed on the island of Guanahani, and called it San Salvador. He continued onto Cuba, naming it Juana, and finished his journey on the island of Santo Domingo, calling it La Española. His second trip began in 1493 in which he found more Caribbean islands including Puerto Rico. His main goal was to colonize the existing discoveries with the 1500 men that he had brought the second time around. Columbus finished his last expedition in 1498 and discovered Trinidad and the coast of present day Venezuela. The colonies Columbus established and conquests in the Americas in the decades to come would lead to an influx of wealth into Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, filling the coffers of the new state that would prove to be the hegemony of Europe only until 1588, when the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 disaster against England and Ireland led to the major decline of Spain as an imperial power in Europe.

Children and alliances


Isabella ensured long-term political stability in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 by arranging strategic marriages for each of her five children; political security was important for a country to be considered a great power. Her firstborn, a daughter named Isabella
Isabella of Asturias
Isabella, Princess of Asturias was a Queen consort of Portugal and heiress presumptive of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile as their eldest daughter...

, married Afonso of Portugal, forging important ties between these two neighbouring countries and hopefully ensuring peace and future alliance. Joanna, Isabella’s second daughter, married Philip the Handsome
Philip I of Castile
Philip I , known as Philip the Handsome or the Fair, was the first Habsburg King of Castile...

, the son of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian I , the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor and Eleanor of Portugal, was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 until his death, though he was never in fact crowned by the Pope, the journey to Rome always being too risky...

. This ensured alliance with the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, a powerful, far-reaching territory which assured Spain’s future political security. Isabella’s first and only son, John, married Margaret of Austria, maintaining ties with the Habsburg dynasty, on which Spain relied heavily. Her fourth child, Maria
Maria of Aragon (1482-1517)
Maria of Aragon was a Spanish infanta and the second wife of Portuguese King Manuel I, thus queen consort of Portugal from her marriage on 30 October 1500 until her death.-Family:She was born at Córdoba on 29 June 1482 as the third surviving daughter of Isabella I of...

, married Manuel I of Portugal
Manuel I of Portugal
Manuel I , the Fortunate , 14th king of Portugal and the Algarves was the son of Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu, , by his wife, Infanta Beatrice of Portugal...

, strengthening the link forged by her older sister’s marriage. Her fifth child, Catherine
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon , also known as Katherine or Katharine, was Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales...

, firstly married to Arthur, Prince of Wales
Arthur, Prince of Wales
Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales was the first son of King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York, and therefore, heir to the throne of England. As he predeceased his father, Arthur never became king...

 and after his premature death, she married Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, King of England.

Motto and symbol


The Monarchs' joint motto was "Tanto monta, monta tanto
Tanto monta, monta tanto, Isabel como Fernando
Tanto monta, monta tanto, Isabel como Fernando, , or "equal opposites in balance" was the motto of a prenuptial agreement made by the Spanish Catholic Monarchs, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon...

". The motto was created by Antonio de Nebrija
Antonio de Nebrija
Antonio de Lebrija , also known as Antonio de Nebrija, Elio Antonio de Lebrija, Antonius Nebrissensis, and Antonio of Lebrixa, was a Spanish scholar, known for writing a grammar of the Castilian language, credited as one of the first published grammars of a Romance language...

 and was either an allusion to the Gordian Knot
Gordian Knot
The Gordian Knot is a legend of Phrygian Gordium associated with Alexander the Great. It is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem solved by a bold stroke :"Turn him to any cause of policy,...

: Tanto monta, monta tanto, cortar como desatar ("It's one and the same, cutting or untying"), or an explanation of the equality of the monarchs: Tanto monta, monta tanto, Isabel como Fernando ("It's one and the same, Isabella the same as Ferdinand")

Their symbol was el yugo y las flechas, a yoke
Yoke
A yoke is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do; some yokes are fitted to individual animals. There are several types of yoke, used in different cultures, and for different types of oxen...

, possibly a reference to the yoke tied with the Gordian knot, and a fasces
Fasces
Fasces are a bundle of wooden sticks with an axe blade emerging from the center, which is an image that traditionally symbolizes summary power and jurisdiction, and/or "strength through unity"...

 (bundle) of arrows. Y and F are the initials of Ysabel (archaic spelling) and Fernando. This let otherwise illiterate peasants recognize the royal crest- similar consonance is used in stained glass. (This symbol was later used by the fascist
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

, from fasces, Spanish political party Falange
Falange
The Spanish Phalanx of the Assemblies of the National Syndicalist Offensive , known simply as the Falange, is the name assigned to several political movements and parties dating from the 1930s, most particularly the original fascist movement in Spain. The word means phalanx formation in Spanish....

, which claimed to represent the inherited glory and the ideals of the Reyes Católicos.)

Death



Isabella died in 1504. Ferdinand remarried Germaine of Foix
Germaine of Foix
Germaine of Foix was queen consort of Aragon as the second wife of Ferdinand II of Aragon, whom he married in 1505 after the death of his first wife, Isabella I of Castile.-Birth and background:...

; he died in 1516.